Nokia is bringing its Lumia 800 and 610 smartphones to the booming Chinese market.
The Nokia 800C will be the first Lumia phone and the first CDMA Windows Phone to reach Chinese consumers. Carried by China Telecom, the 800C will make its debut in April at a contract-free price of 3599 RMB ($571). Buyers can pick up the phone at Nokia brand stores, China Telecom's Tianyi FlyYoung distribution chain, and other retail outlets.
"We're excited to introduce our first Lumia smartphone, the Nokia 800C, to this important market with our exclusive launch partner, China Telecom," Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said in a statement. "Working closely together, we've created a compelling, locally relevant experience on the Nokia 800C especially tailored for people in China."
Like its Lumia 800 cousin, the 800C will be powered by a 1.4GHz processor and offer a 3.7-inch AMOLED ClearBlack touch screen. The phone will come with 16GB of internal memory and an 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens.
Applications bundled with the phone include Nokia Maps with 3D maps of China and 190 other countries, Nokia Music with a free 12-month subscription to streaming music, and the Nokia Drive car navigation system. Nokia and China Telecom are also trying to aim the 800C toward younger consumers by integrating games, music, videos, and other apps directly onto the phone's home screen.
A variant of the Lumia 610, the Nokia 610C will sell in China sometime in the second quarter, also carried by China Telecom. Few details were spilled about this new phone, though Nokia said the 610C will be aimed at an even more "youthful audience" and offered as the "perfect introduction" to Windows Phone.
China has turned into a lucrative market for smartphone vendors, recently surpassing the U.S. as the world's largest. During last year's third quarter, 23.9 million smartphones were shipped in China, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, just inching past the 23.3 million shipped in the U.S. during the same period. Among the 1.3 billion people in China, more than 1 billion are mobile phone subscribers.
Lumia phones have garnered positive reviews and promising sales in certain parts of the world. But Nokia and Microsoft still face the challenge of competing in a market dominated by Apple and Android.
China may be no less a challenge than other countries. Among Android vendors, Samsung alone enjoys a 24.3 percent slice of the Chinese market, according to Gartner, while Apple holds a 7.5 percent share.